The most important thing now is to take care of yourself and your family. NOSTA has prepared this information to ensure that you have all the information you need to guide you to make the most informed decision regarding your pregnancy/parental leave options.
This is a working document formed to assist you during your pregnancy and leave process. If you notice that something is missing from this checklist, please let NOSTA know so that we can add it.
Pregnancy leave and Maternity leave are synonymous, however because the information is from a variety of sources, some still use the less inclusive “maternity” term.
Before your leave
What you need to know:
As a teacher in BC, there are a few things you should know about your rights and benefits when it comes to taking maternity leave. It can be a bit complicated, as different provisions and benefits come from various sources, including the NOSTA-SD83 Collective Agreement, the Employment Standards Act of BC, and the Government of Canada Employment Insurance. Here’s a basic summary of how they all work together:
- Under the newest BCTF collective agreement, if you’re eligible for Employment Insurance (EI), you’ll receive 16 weeks of 100% of your salary at the beginning of your Pregnancy Leave. These payments are a combination of EI maternity benefits as well as SD83 “top-up” payments.
- The Employment Standards Act of BC sets the employment rules for all workers in BC, including rights to leaves for maternity/pregnancy leave and parental leave. Sometimes the language provides different provisions than are found in the NOSTA Collective Agreement, but it’s important to know that the Employment Standards Act supersedes the Collective Agreement. One example of this is that the ESA states an employee can return to work at any time from Maternity leave, whereas the NOSTA Collective Agreement (2019-2022) states it is restricted to after a natural break. Since the ESA supersedes, a member is eligible to return to work whenever they choose.
- The Government of Canada provides EI benefits for both Pregnancy/Maternity and Parental Leave. Be sure to check the website to see if you’re eligible for which type(s) of benefits, and how those benefits may be shared by co-parents.
- Some Clarifications on terminology and eligibility:
- Pregnancy/Maternity benefits are for a person giving birth ONLY; Parental benefits are for all parents
- Extended (18 month) leave does not mean you get more money; it is just the money for the standard (12 month) Maternity/Parental leave spread over a longer period of time
- The non-birthing co-parent must take their Parental Leave(if they choose to) within the Parental Leave period of the birthing parent.
- If your pregnancy ends in termination, miscarriage, or the death of a child before or after birth, you’re also entitled to leave. In these and other unforeseen circumstances, you’re advised to contact the NOSTA office and the District HR department for advice and support.
- When on Pregnancy/Maternity and Parental Leave from the District, you’ll have some financial and procedural responsibilities. These include paying your certification fees annually by May 31 (You can pay online here), paying your portion of extended health benefits while on leave, and arranging to pay your portion of the pension if you wish to buy pensionable service for the time you’re on leave(more pension information is available here). For further help with any of these, contact the NOSTA office or the District HR department.
- If you’re becoming an adoptive parent, you have full access to EI Parental Leave (not Maternity), as well as other benefits in the NOSTA Collective Agreement. The Pregnancy Leave provisions in the NOSTA Collective Agreement apply to adoption, including EI top-up to 100% salary for 16 weeks and return-to-work guarantees.
During your leave
What you need to know:
- You will receive 16 weeks of 100% pay in combination from the District and EI. You will receive two separate payments (EI and District). You will receive a further maximum 40 weeks of parental leave that you can share with a partner over 12 months. One person on parental leave may receive a maximum of 35 weeks of parental leave. There is an additional 5 weeks for a co-parent, to be taken within the same 12 month period as the first parent
- Your child’s BC Health Identification number will be assigned in the hospital at birth; the card will be mailed to you in the weeks following birth
- If any portion of the first 16 weeks (with top-up) falls in the summer, the district will pause your top-up payments. You will receive the full 16 weeks, but they will be completed starting the first week of September
- You will have no difficulty accessing summer savings if you have previously opted through the District for the 12 month payment plan. You receive one payment in July and one payment in August from the District
- You will accrue Contributory Service toward your pension while on Pregnancy/Parental leave, but if you wish to accrue pensionable service (advised) you will need to arrange to pay into your pension. The district will pay its contribution of your pension– you have maximum five years to pay for this service into your pension. You need to arrange with the District and Teachers’ Pension Plan to complete this process
- Your District health benefits will continue to be paid at 85% by the District for the duration of your maternity/parental leave. You will still be responsible for your portion and payroll will assist you in insuring this is deducted from your Pregnancy Leave top-up money. Members choosing to take parental or extended pregnancy leave will be responsible for the full cost of their benefits. You may opt to waive all benefits except for life insurance which is a condition of employment and must be continued during Parental or extended pregnancy leave.
- You can apply for positions in the District while on leave, to be commenced upon your return from leave
- You are not responsible for leaving planned curricular activities or assessments for your position while you are on leave
Returning to Work
- If you take Pregnancy/Maternity or Parental leave, you are entitled to return to your position at your school “as if you had never taken leave“. If that position no longer exists, you will be assigned to a similar position at the school. Any other circumstances will be dealt with according to the Collective Agreement language in a clear and predictable way. If you have concerns about your position, you can contact the NOSTA President at (250)832-1933.
- If you plan to return to work earlier than you originally planned or intend to apply for extended parental leave with the District, you must notify the district at least four weeks in advance.
- Even if you have a continuing position to resume mid-year after your leave ends, you may apply with the District to work as a Teacher Teaching On Call (TTOC) for the remainder of the school year, work part-time, or work a different position for the remainder of the year (e.g. Remedy teacher). These options are not guaranteed, but the District will generally consider such requests seriously. If you give at least four weeks’ notice, you are guaranteed the option to extend your parental leave (unpaid) for up to another school year (i.e. up to 20 school months total maximum leave).
- You do not need to return after a natural break, as specified in the NOSTA Collective Agreement. The BC Employment Standards Act allows you to return after your EI leave runs out, which supersedes the Collective Agreement language.
- You will be responsible for all planning, assessment, and reporting upon your return, regardless of when in the school year you return.
If you have any questions or concerns about your rights and benefits when taking maternity leave, don’t hesitate to reach out to the NOSTA office and the District HR department for advice and support.
Information Related to Employment Insurance
Ensure that you have worked 600 hours (9.1 insurable hour per day/45.5 per week) in the ‘qualifying period’, which is the shorter of:
- 52 weeks immediately preceding a claim for benefits; or
- the period since the beginning of the preceding claim Notify the School District by email or submit in person a letter informing them of your leave. This should be completed at least 4 weeks prior to birth.